‘Thou shall not be caught’: God’s failed Eleventh Commandment


“THOU shall not be caught” is God’s failed ‘eleventh commandment”, according to one of our humorous teachers at St Francis College Pugu, an Irish Catholic priest whose name was Father O’Connor. He was commenting on a report which had just been published, of a student at another Secondary School in the country, who had been caught cheating in the then “Territorial Standard Ten Examinations”.

In his humorous comments, Fr O’Connor asked us thus: “Boys, I am sure you all know about God’s Ten Commandments? ‘Yes Father’, we shouted back. He asked us again: “But did you know that there is an eleventh Commandment?

No, we again shouted, getting rather excited. So he went on: “I will now tell you that there is a ghost ‘eleventh Commandment’, which failed miserably. It says : Thou shall not be caught”.

Unfortunately, he went on, “there are many people who believe in this eleventh commandment, so they commit all sorts of crimes, in the misguided belief that they will not be caught . . . My good boys, that is the reason why I want to warn you very strongly, that you must never, ever, entertain any such misguided belief, and foolishly proceed to commit such wrongs as cheating in your examinations, like this stupid student.

For if you do that, you are bound to be caught”. Under normal circumstances, Fr O’Connor would have justifiably been accused of having committed the offence known in Catholic teachings as ‘sacrilege’, for his unauthorized invention of an ‘eleventh commandment’ which, in fact, does not exist! Under the Catholic theological doctrine, ‘sacrilege’ is the offense of treating a holy matter disrespectfully.

God’s Ten Commandments are a holy set, hence the act of mutilating them by way of adding an ‘eleventh Commandment’, is plain sacrilege, or perhaps even heresy. But, fortunately, he was talking privately to his small class of 25 students, hence he was safely out of any such danger.

President Magufuli is now catching such wrong doers.

I have told this story solely in order to make the point that ever since he took the oath of office, President Magufuli’s style of governance has amply demonstrated that ‘good governance’ includes the ability to “catch the thieves”, namely those public officials who have been systematically embezzling and plundering our public resources, probably in their misguided belief that they “shall not be caught”, a misguided belief which Father O’Connor aptly warned us to never, ever, entertain; simply because you are bound to be caught.

And indeed, we are now witnessing President John Magufuli of the fifth phase government, doing exactly that, namely, catching the thieves, who were presumably relying on the ‘eleventh Commandment’.

As was widely reported in the mass media, already in his first 100 days, he had caught several such offenders, who were probably ‘basking in the warm sunshine’ of their misguided belief that they will not be caught! The published list of the persons who have been caught so far, includes some top ranking public officials, whose names were published in Newspapers such as the ‘Daily News’ of Friday, February 12th, 2016, as follows: “President Magufuli has suspended more than 100 public servants as investigations continue on the allegations brought against them . . .

A number of high-ranking officials have faced the wrath of the new administration, which has declared zero tolerance on corruption and embezzlement of public funds”. The Paper went on to list them, starting with one Dr Shabaan Mwanjaka, a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport.

Dr Mwanjaka was removed from that position after it came to light that a total of 13bn/- of Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) was spent dubiously. He was put aside pending the outcome of investigations.

Others who were included on that list were the Director-General of Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH); the Director-General of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) ; the Director- General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB); plus four senior officials of the anti-corruption watchdog ; the Director- General of the Reli Assets Holding Corporation (RAHCO), together with RAHCO lawyer one Emmanuel Massawe, who were put on hold to pave the way for investigations to be carried out regarding certain alleged breaches of the public procurement regulations, in awarding a tender for building a USD 7.6 billion (Tshs 15 trillion) standard gauge railway line; as well as many other public officials.

The said RAHCO officials were subsequently arraigned in court. This is ample confirmation and proof that our teacher, Fr O’Connor, was absolutely right when he strictly warned us (his students at that time), to ‘never, ever, entertain any misguided belief that ‘thou shall not be caught’, because eventually, at some stage, you are bound to be caught.

President Magufuli’s style of governance.

President Magufuli’s style of governance appears to be that of an inspector. Inspectors are expected to carry out their respective functions without giving prior notice to those who are to be inspected. For example, school inspectors are required to visit their assigned schools for the purpose of checking whether everything is in order, without giving prior notice.

Similarly, factory inspectors are required to visit their assigned facilities in order to check whether the relevant governing laws and rules are being followed, without giving prior notice of their intended visits.

Dedicated Inspectors always make what are described as surprise visits. That is their modus operandi. And that is precisely what President Magufuli has clearly shown, namely that his ‘surprise visit’ approach is going to be his preferred style of governance.

For, as we all know, the President clearly demonstrated this style right from his first day in State House, when he ‘stormed’ the Treasury offices without prior notice, and did a head count to determine the absent officials.

Since then, he has energetically continued to make his rounds of such surprise visits to several other public offices and institutions; and has taken immediate and appropriate action against the suspected offenders, or issued other relevant orders.

The President’s unique style goes beyond catching thieves.

But President Magufuli’s ‘good governance’ leadership style is not limited or confined to his commendable actions of ‘catching the thieves’. It goes very far beyond that. This was readily confirmed by THE CITIZEN Newspaper of Friday 12th March 2016, which published the results of a survey which had been commissioned by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) concerning President Magufuli’s performance during his first 100 days in office.

The CITIZEN said the following in its main headline news: “The survey commissioned by MCL shows that Tanzania’s fifth President enjoys sky-high approval ratings. It is 90.4 percent for JPM”. It is also stated in the published findings, that “a raft of cost-cutting measures he has adopted to fix the rot in the public service has raised his performance rating among Tanzanians.

These include his ban on non-essential foreign travels, and the habit of holding meetings in expensive hotels by senior government officials. He has also barred fancy national events which used to be a source of nugatory expenditures of public financial resources. He didn’t end there, For example, his decision to merge some Ministries and appoint a lean cabinet has earned widespread approval and praises.

The survey, naturally, had covered a variety of governance areas, including the following issues:- (i) “Observing and ensuring the rule of law and good governance’; in which he scored 81.9 percent; (ii) “Ensuring freedom of speech and information”, in which he scored 78.9 percent; (iii) “Giving attention to international affairs, including the East African Community”, in which he scored 77.8 percent. (iii) “The way the President has addressed the Zanzibar political impasse” : 48.8 percent. (iv) “The way the President has handled economic challenges, including unemployment” : 84.3 percent. (v) “The way President Magufuli has handled the issues of corruption and embezzlement of public funds as the twin cancers that are troubling the nation: the approval rating from female respondents was 92.6 percent, while that of the male respondents was 90.2 percent.

The survey report’s conclusion. Finally, the survey report concludes as follows: “President Magufuli has so far shown a no-nonsense approach in taming corruption, laziness, and the business-as-usual syndrome among public servants.

This has endeared him to most Tanzanians. Whereas in the October 2015 polls he received only 58.46 percent of the valid votes cast, this survey shows that if elections were to be held today, Dr John Magufuli would win by a resounding 70 percent, followed by Edward Lowassa of CHADEMA, with 20 percent”. Caution: the dissenting voices must be heard.

However, the same report discloses some vital information regarding those Tanzanians who are unhappy with Dr Magufuli’s governance style. The report says: “Only 9.6 percent of Tanzanians, most of them middle-aged urban dwellers, said they were not happy with Dr Magufuli’s governance style”.

There is an important principle which governs the decision-making process in a democracy, which provides that “the minority must have their say, but the majority must have their way”. The reported 9.6 percent is, of course, a very tiny minority, but, in obedience to the above quoted principle, they must be allowed “to have their say”.

That is to say, their seemingly ‘feeble’ voice must be heard, and duly recognized. But my humble advice to them is that they should try to “make peace with imperfection”. This concept is elaborate here below.

Making peace with imperfection. An American stress private consultant, Richard Carlson, wrote the following words in his book titled Don’t sweat the small stuff: “Make peace with imperfection. You should restrain yourself from falling into the habit of insisting that things must be other than they are, and try to eliminate your desire for perfection.

Whenever you are attached to the desire of having something better than it already is, you are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle, you are focusing only on what’s wrong. And when you are overly focused on what’s wrong, you will fail to realize that while there is always a better way of doing something, this does not mean that you cannot appreciate the way things already are”.

Thus, in the instant case, the minority 9.6 percent Tanzanians who are not happy with President Magufuli’s governance should, in Richard Carlson’s words quoted above, “make peace with imperfection”, by also appreciating the many good things he has done for our country, and continues to do day after day.

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